November 20, 2017

Local Man Claims National Truck Driving Championship

2014 National Truck Driving Champion in the Sleeper Berth Class, Mr. Matt Awbrey (Photo: American Trucking Associations)

2014 National Truck Driving Champion in the Sleeper Berth Class, Mr. Matt Awbrey (Photo: American Trucking Associations)

(Lagrange, GA) — Friends, family and co-workers of Matt Awbrey gathered recently at the Walmart Distribution Center in Lagrange to honor Matt, a native and life-long resident of Heard County, on his achievements at a national competition in Pennsylvania this summer.

A Walmart Transportation professional truck driver, Awbrey was recently named the National Champion in the Sleeper Berth Class at the 77th Annual National Truck Driving Championships held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 16, 2014.

Jeff Fackler, a vice president at Walmart, and Jason Himmer, a senior director, were both on hand at the day-long celebration of Matt’s accomplishment.

“We are just awfully proud of Matt and all of our drivers who competed in the ATA Championships this year,” Fackler stated. “It just means a lot to us the professionalism that Matt and our other drivers bring to us as they represent us and demonstrate safety out on the roads for us.”

To win the coveted title, Awbrey’s driving skills and knowledge of transportation and truck safety information topped  other professional drivers from all across the United States in the “Super Bowl of Safety” sponsored by American Trucking Associations.

“The National Truck Driving Championships competitors are the best of the best – the safest, most skilled and most knowledgeable among professional drivers,” says ATA President and CEO Bill Graves.  “I applaud all the competitors for their achievements and dedication to safety.”

In their respective classes, drivers tested their expertise in the driving skills they use daily. The competition course inside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center challenged their knowledge of safety, equipment and the industry.

The skills course tested drivers’ ability to judge distances, maneuver tight spaces, reverse, park, and position their vehicle exactly over scales, before barriers or around curves. Additionally, each driver is faced with a difficult written exam and a pre-trip inspection.

In route to his title, Awbrey has logged over 30 years as a driver, with over 3 million miles behind the wheel.  He graduated from Heard County High School with the Class of 1979 and has been driving with Walmart for 13 years.

Matt vividly recollects his first day with Wal-Mart as it happened to be on September 11, 2001, a date that all Americans will never forget.

Awbrey with his niece Annley (L) and his daughter Maria (C) at the recent Walmart Transportation celebration in Lagrange

Awbrey with his niece Annley (L) and his daughter Maria (C) at the recent Walmart Transportation celebration in Lagrange

Remarkably, despite the many hours of driving and logging so many miles since 1984, Awbrey has been 100 percent accident-free throughout his career.

Awbrey began competing as a driver when he arrived at Walmart and has performed well at many competitions including being named a Georgia State Champion in 2007.

Earlier this year, he also claimed second place at the Walmart National Driving Championships in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Awbrey enjoys some company during some of his time on the road in the form of  his  daughter Maria, who accompanies him on many of his road trips.

“It was an honor to represent Walmart and the State of Georgia at the Nationals,” said Awbrey. “It means a lot to me and only comes second to my little girl Maria. I also want to thank Mark Ward and Larry Warr for their tremendous help and support.”

According to Awbrey, who drives routes mostly in the southeast, the pressure is always on for truck driving competitors who can’t afford a single mistake throughout each year.

“Even an accident that is not your fault can disqualify you from competing,” said Awbrey. “It requires a lot of luck — out on the roads every day and at each of the regional, state, and national events — it is a game of centimeters.”

Visit www.trucking.org for more information about the truck driving national championships as well as other competitions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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